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Hardspace: Shipbreaker Tips Guide - 17 Things the Game Doesn't Tell You

Get your sea legs (space legs?) with our starter guide!

If you’re looking for Hardspace: Shipbreaker tips, you’ve come to the right place. The seemingly simple game about breaking apart ships… in space… doesn’t go out of its way to explain the ins and outs of surviving in the void. That’s part of the appeal! You’re meant to screw up, blow up, and resurrect as an indentured clone a few times. But if you’re getting frustrated, or just not sure what you’re doing wrong, we’ve got you covered. Here are our best Hardspace: Shipbreaker tips to get you back on your feet (even in zero gravity)!

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Ships Are Full of Consumables

After you get the obvious, exterior goodies off a ship — like nacelles and antennae — it’s time to go inside. But you don’t need to start cutting right away! Take stock of the loose goods first. I mean that literally: ships are usually stocked full of consumable items you can collect and use on the fly. This includes fuel canisters, oxygen, and repair kits. The former two get consumed immediately, adding to your supplies, while the kits get added to your existing stock. There are also data logs with a bit of story for you to hear. Just get close and press the F key by default to collect any of these. Though it’s probably worth leaving O2 and fuel laying around until you need a refill. Just be careful not to light them on fire!

Insides Are Weak Points

The Splitsaw feature on your cutter exists for one reason: to slice open holes. This lets you reach otherwise inaccessible salvage and junction points that connect intact parts of a ship together. However, the plasma torch doesn’t work everywhere. The outside hull of very ship seems impervious to heat… The insides, however, bear no such defenses. If you want to get inside a ship’s guts, just go in through the airlock first (and go through the air pressure rigmarole) and start cutting from within.

Pressure Isn’t Equal

Depressurizing ships is essential. If you don’t, you’re going to get flung around, knocked unconscious, or downright exploded. That’s dangerous (and costly) in Hardspace: Shipbreaker. So the game teaches you to depressurize ships pretty early on. What it does not say is that cockpits have their own, self-contained air pressure. If you go into a ship and just depressurize the cockpit — without doing the main cabin first — is going to get you a face full of debris. Use the panel in the main cabin, first, unless you want to keep the cockpit separate for some reason.

Bulkheads Contain Delicious Treasure

So you’ve gotten inside the ship. You’ve taken all the consumables (or set them aside for later) and depressurized properly. Great! Now it’s time to cut your way into the bulkhead. These are almost always actually hollow. And they’re full of more structural weak points you need to hit, as well as valuable items. If you’re struggling to find a power cell to complete that pesky work order, for instance, this is where you find them: inside the bones of the ship itself.

Hit the Connectors First

Using your scanner will reveal all the important points on a ship. Later upgrades provide even more information to help you prioritize what you need. Right form the jump, however, you can see bright yellow junctions. These take top priority! These connection points aren’t worth a thing — unlike pieces of the hull and electronics. You’re totally free to just disintegrate them using the Stinger of your welding gun. Doing so will usually detach nice, clean chunks of the ship for you to immediately salvage. This has the doubly useful effect of often opening up “hidden” areas, too.

Red Means Go

Maybe this one is pretty obvious, but just in case you overlooked it, the crosshair on your cutter actually changes color when you’re in range of a valid cut point. Specifically, it shifts from gray to red. This is useful for telling you when to stop your thrusters when approaching such a point.

Sadly, there doesn’t appear to be a colorblind option in Hardspace: Shipbreaker just yet. So players with difficulty seeing the shift might have to wing it a bit more. Though you can always rely on the stinger mode of your cutter to tell you when you’re out of range if you try to fire from too far away.

shipbreaker tips


Most ships in Hardspace: Shipbreaker are covered with electronic greebles, inside and out. These are things like antennae, control panels, and circuit breakers — even chairs and light bulbs. The small, but fully intact add-ons don’t need to be cut off the ship. They just need a good pull! Attach your grapple to small outcroppings like this and watch for the colored box that appears on your screen. It will slowly drain, showing you the “health” of the item. Once it empties, the object will detach, and you can move it around with your grapple gun at will. You can also do this with doors on the inside of most ships.

(Don’t) Feel the Heat

Look to the bottom-right of your screen when you have the cutter equipped sometime. You should see a small gauge that simply says “Cutter Temp.” The general temperature of your little laser is also visible by watching the nozzle — where the beam comes out. The more you use the cutter, the hotter it gets, and the redder this nozzle becomes. Eventually it will overheat and quite literally light your character on fire. At which point the game should hopefully explain that this is… y’know… a bad thing. Better to not let it happen at all, though. Just keep an eye on the color change, too, so you don’t have to constantly watch the gauge!

Listen Close

If you really get close to overheating, the cutter will also emit a rapid beeping sound. This is basically the game’s way of telling you to chill out. That’s not the only helpful audio cue, though. Ever watch one of those yellow cut points disintegrate. Like, really watch them? The disintegration is actually faster than the animation that shows the cut point disappear. You can turn off your cutter (saving you some valuable time and heat) long before the molten glow finishes vaporizing. Since you can’t always rely on your eyes, though, your ears become a better indicator. There is almost always a “snapping” or “popping” sound that plays when a cut point is completely destroyed, but before it fully vanishes. Use this as your milestone and stop cutting when you hear the sharp sound. It takes a bit of practice, but over time it makes the shipbreaking process much smoother.

Pull Your Weight

“Tethers are your friend.” Sure. That’s true, and the game goes to great pains to remind you of it. However, the normal grapple gun in Hardspace: Shipbreaker shouldn’t be ignored. It has a couple useful features the game doesn’t really explain. The first is that, in addition to the “push,” there is also a “pull” mechanic. Just right-click while you’re attached to something in order to reel it in closer to you! This is very useful to line up shots as you dunk debris into one of the three salvage holes in your shipyard.

It’s also useful for speeding up movement. If you use the pull function while connected to something immovable (say your home base) the effect will speed up your movement considerably. This is great for getting back to the terminal where you can load up on oxygen and fuel, or patch up a hole in your suit. Just remember to hit the brakes!

hardspace tips

Don’t Go to Sleep Just Yet

Speaking of the terminal, make sure to check it out. You can manually end one of your work days by entering your home base. This will refill your oxygen and such, sure, but it will also lower the total time you have to salvage a given ship. Instead, just access the shop terminal (which mostly goes unremarked upon during the tutorial, for some reason). It’s the computer screen with a big, glowing wrench hologram over it. And it will sell you O2, repair kits, suit fixes, and fuel. It does cost credits, but not many. And more time to complete work orders is more valuable than money.

Watch Those Hot Potatoes

Power cells, reactors, electrical junction boxes need to be kept at arm’s length. They’re unstable and it’s easy to tell why; they arc with electricity and radiation. As such, using the “pull” function on your grapple can be very dangerous with these objects in particular. Try to thrust yourself a good distance away and then maneuver them gently around obstacles by flying backwards, rather than reeling them close to you. Once they’re clear of the ship, you can launch them into the green salvage bay with little worry.

Get the O2 Upgrade

Oxygen doesn’t feel like a big deal at first in Hardspace: Shipbreaker. It’s the one thing you get more of every time you rest. Not to mention you can just buy more from the station terminal, refill with canisters, or subsist off a pressurized cabin! But it’s also the most ever-present pain in your ass while cutting. O2 depletes faster than any other resource, and flinging back to base is a big waste of time (not to mention tedious). Getting upgraded oxygen early will make your space time much smoother.

Use Your Head (and the Rest of Your Body)

Your grapple gun isn’t the only thing that can move objects. Your thrusters, which allow you to move freely through space, also affect free-floating salvage if you charge into them. This doesn’t mean you should launch yourself from halfway across the yard. You can and will take impact damage if you hit objects at speed in Hardspace: Shipbreaker. Yet if you nudge a piece of salvage and continue to thrust into it from close-range, it will slowly start to move — which is especially useful when trying to dislodge disconnected bulkheads from the inside. Simply zap the interior cut points, get snug against the now-disconnected wall, and then start pushing with your body. It will quickly come loose and give you a new entrance/exit into the ship.

hardspace shipbreaker starter guide

Damage Doesn’t Go Away

By the way, even though oxygen refills every time you rest, that doesn’t mean anything else does. Equipment durability and fuel both remained drained between work days. You need to fill up with both by paying for fuel and expending repair packs on your gear. To reiterate, those repair packs can be found (for free) inside ships… sometimes. If you run out and can’t find more, you need to buy them from the store.

It’s Not Just About Work Orders

Early on in Hardspace: Shipbreaker, you unlock new levels of certification just by completing the tutorial. That goes away quickly, however. At which point you need to start checking what “achievements” you need to meet to unlock new levels of gear upgrades and better classes of ship. You can do so back at base by looking at the certifications tab. Easy! That’s not to say work orders aren’t still important, of course. Most certifications require a certain number of them to be completed anyway. And the generate the Lynx Points you need to buy the actual upgrades once they’re unlocked. But it’s best to kill two birds with one stone by focusing on the orders that also get you access to better stuff.

Another Day, Another Payment

You’ll probably figure this one out very quickly, but the game sure does love to spring it on you. You can’t just cycle through ships collecting goodies over and over — not if you expect to clear your debt or turn a profit. Every in-game day in Hardspace: Shipbreaker (which last 15 real-time minutes) comes with a cost. You’ll receive a bill for food and shelter that eats into whatever money you made that day. You can technically start over, ship after ship, collecting repair kits to stock up, and farming work orders by just grabbing a power cell. Except you’ll bury yourself back in debt. It’s probably better to just play the game as intended. It’s an awfully fun one, after all.

About the Author


Senior Managing Editor of Fanbyte.com and co-founder of the website. Everyone should listen to their opinions and recommendations sooner.